The best travel insurance policies and providers
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It’s easy to dismiss the value of travel insurance until you need it. And many travelers have strong opinions on whether you should buy travel insurance. However, the purpose of this post isn’t to determine whether you should purchase travel insurance. Instead, in this post, I’ll describe some of the top travel insurance providers and policies.
Of course, in the age of coronavirus, a primary question is whether travel insurance covers pandemics. Some policies will cover you if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and have proof of illness from a doctor. And some policies may even cover other types of pandemic-related expenses and cancellations. But many policies exclude losses due to pandemics, epidemics, known, foreseeable or expected events and travel to areas with a CDC travel warning above a particular level.
So before buying a specific policy, you must understand the policy and any special notices your insurer has about COVID-19. You may even want to buy the optional cancel for any reason (CFAR) add-on that’s available for some policies. Though you’ll pay more for that sort of coverage, you can cancel your trip for any reason and still get some of your trip costs back.
In this guide, I’ll introduce several policies from top travel insurance providers. However, I can’t tell you which policy or provider is the absolute best since that depends on your wants and needs for a particular trip.
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The best travel insurance providers
For this guide, I selected providers that generally receive a positive rating from TPG Lounge members, provide adequate details about their policies and claims process online, are usually well-rated online and offer policies to residents of most U.S. states.
Here’s a table with a quick overview of nine of the best travel insurance providers:
|Providers||Type||Preexisting conditions||Quote for a one-week trip to Turkey (basic/comprehensive)|
|AIG Travel Guard||Single trip or annual plan for multiple trips||Waived under set conditions||$65/$189|
|Allianz Travel Insurance||Single trip or annual plan for multiple trips||Waived under set conditions||$82/$143|
|American Express Travel Insurance||Single trip (sold as package or build-your-own)||Waived under set conditions||$59/$170|
|GeoBlue||Only medical. For a single trip, multiple trips or long term||Covered by most policies||$11/$19|
|IMG Global||Single trip or multiple trips (travel insurance and travel medical insurance options offered)||Waived under set conditions for travel insurance; covered but capped for single-trip travel medical insurance||$11/$135|
|Travel Insured International||Single trip||Waived under set conditions||$97/$140|
|Travelex Insurance||Single trip||Waived for some plans under set conditions||$93/$129|
|Seven Corners||Single trip or annual plan for multiple trips||Waived for some plans under set conditions||$75/$126|
|World Nomads||Single trip plans||Not covered for most benefits and no waiver offered||$72/$115|
Now, let’s take a look at each of the nine providers in more detail. I priced out a single-trip policy for each provider for a $2,000 one-week vacation to Istanbul, Turkey, on August 8-15, 2021. If the provider offers multi-trip annual plans, I also priced out an annual plan starting on August 1. I used my actual age (35) and state of residence (Florida) when obtaining quotes. So you may see a different price — or even additional policies since some providers may not offer all policies to Florida residents — when getting a quote.
AIG Travel Guard receives many positive reviews from readers in the TPG Lounge who have filed claims with the company. AIG offers three plans online, which you can compare side-by-side and examine sample policies. Here are three plans for my trip to Turkey in August:
AIG Travel Guard offers several other policies, including an annual policy and a single-trip policy without trip cancellation protection. However, when I tried to obtain an annual policy quote online, I got an error message. So, you may need to call to receive a quote for some AIG Travel Guard policies.
Typically, AIG Travel Guard wouldn’t cover you for any loss or expense due to a preexisting medical condition that existed within 180 days of the coverage effective date. However, Travel Guard will waive the preexisting medical condition exclusion on some plans if you meet the following conditions:
- You purchase the plan within 15 days of your initial trip payment.
- The amount of coverage you purchase equals all prepaid, nonrefundable payments or deposits applicable to the trip at the time of purchase. You must insure the costs of any subsequent arrangements added to the same trip within 15 days of the date of payment or deposit for these arrangements.
- You must be medically able to travel when you pay for your plan.
- The Deluxe and Preferred plans allow you to purchase an upgrade that lets you cancel your trip for any reason. But, this coverage will not exceed 50% or 75% of your covered trip cost.
- You can include one child age 17 and under for no additional cost with each paying adult on most single-trip plans.
- Other optional upgrades are available on some policies, including an adventure sports bundle, baggage bundle, inconvenience bundle, pet bundle, security bundle and wedding bundle. So, an AIG Travel Guard plan may be a good choice if you know you want extra coverage in specific areas.
- Travel Guard generally has fewer exclusions than many of the other providers. For example, the adventure activities that Travel Guard excludes are relatively limited.
Purchase your policy here: AIG Travel Guard
Allianz is one of the best-regarded providers in the TPG Lounge and many readers found the claim process reasonable. Allianz offers many plans, including the following single-trip plans for my proposed trip to Turkey in August:
If you travel frequently, it may make sense to purchase an annual multi-trip plan. For this plan, all of the maximum coverage amounts in the table below are per trip (except for the trip cancellation and trip interruption, which are per travel insurance plan). Trips typically must be 45 days or less, although some plans may cover trips of up to 90 days.
See Allianz’s coverage alert for current information on COVID-19 coverage.
Most Allianz travel insurance plans will cover preexisting medical conditions if you meet particular requirements. For the OneTrip Premier, Prime and Basic plans, these requirements are as follows:
- You purchased the policy within 14 days of the date of the first trip payment or deposit.
- You were a U.S. resident when you purchased the policy.
- You were medically able to travel when you purchased the policy.
- On the policy purchase date, you insured the total non-refundable cost of your trip (including arrangements that will become non-refundable or subject to cancellation penalties before your departure date). If you incur additional non-refundable trip expenses after purchasing this policy, you must insure them within 14 days of their purchase.
- Allianz offers reasonably priced annual policies for independent travelers and families that take multiple trips of 45 days (90 days for select plans) or less per year.
- Some Allianz plans provide the option to receive a flat amount of reimbursement without receipts for trip delay and baggage delay claims. Of course, you can also submit receipts to get up to the maximum refund.
- For emergency transportation coverage, you or someone on your behalf must contact Allianz and Allianz must then make all transportation arrangements in advance. However, most Allianz policies provide an option if you cannot contact Allianz: Allianz will pay up to what it would have paid if it had made the arrangements.
Purchase your policy here: Allianz Travel Insurance
American Express Travel Insurance offers four different package plans as well as a build-your-own coverage option. You don’t have to be an American Express cardholder to purchase this insurance. Here are the four package options for my sample weeklong trip to Turkey. But, unlike some other insurances, Amex doesn’t ask where you’re traveling.
Amex’s build-your-own coverage plan is unique in that you can purchase just the coverage you need. For most types of coverage, you can even select the coverage amount that works best for you.
The prices for the packages and the build-your-own plan don’t increase for longer trips as long as the trip cost remains constant. However, the emergency medical and dental benefit only covers your first 60 days of travel.
For a limited period, American Express Travel Insurance has implemented a one-time exception to its “free look” period. This exception may allow you to terminate coverage and receive a full refund if a covered trip is canceled because of COVID-19.
Typically, Amex won’t cover any loss you incur because of a preexisting medical condition that existed within 90 days of the coverage effective date. However, Amex will waive its preexisting-condition exclusion if you meet both of the following requirements:
- You must be medically able to travel at the time you pay the policy premium.
- You pay the policy premium within 14 days of making the first covered trip deposit.
- Amex’s build-your-own coverage option allows you to purchase — and pay for — only the coverage you need.
- Coverage on long trips doesn’t cost more than short trips, making this policy ideal for extended trips. However, the emergency medical and dental benefit only covers your first 60 days of travel.
- American Express Travel Insurance can protect travel expenses paid for with Amex Membership Rewards points in the Pay with Points program (as well as travel expenses paid for with cash, debit or credit). However, travel expenses paid for with other types of points and miles aren’t covered.
- American Express Travel Insurance doesn’t explicitly exclude most adventure sports. So this policy may be a good choice if you participate in adventure sports typically excluded by other providers.
Purchase your policy here: American Express Travel Insurance
GeoBlue is different from most other providers described in this piece because it only provides medical insurance for use while traveling. There are many different policies. Some require you to have primary health insurance in the United States (although it doesn’t need to be provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield) and some only offer coverage while you’re traveling outside the United States.
Two single-trip plans cover travel for six months or less. The Voyager Choice policy provides coverage (including medical services and medical evacuation for preexisting conditions) for trips outside the U.S. to travelers who are 95 or younger and already have a U.S. health insurance policy.
The Voyager Essential policy provides coverage (including medical evacuation for preexisting conditions) for trips outside the U.S. to travelers who are 95 or younger, regardless of whether they have primary health insurance.
Two multi-trip plans cover trips of up to 70 days each for one year. Both policies provide coverage (including medical services and medical evacuation for preexisting conditions) to travelers with primary health insurance.
Be sure to check out GeoBlue’s COVID-19 notices before buying a plan.
Most GeoBlue policies explicitly cover pre-existing conditions for medical services and medical evacuation.
- GeoBlue can be an excellent option if you’re mainly concerned about the medical side of travel insurance. You may only need medical travel insurance if you already have travel protections such as trip delay and baggage delay through purchasing your travel expenses with a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
- GeoBlue provides single trip, multi-trip and long-term medical travel insurance policies for many different types of travel.
Purchase your policy here: GeoBlue
IMG Global offers various travel medical insurance policies for travelers, as well as travel insurance policies. For a single trip of 90 days or less, there are five policy types available for vacation or holiday travelers. Although you must enter your gender, males and females received the same quote for my one-week search.
You can purchase an annual multi-trip travel medical insurance plan covering trips up to 30 or 45 days. You can add an optional adventure sports rider or evacuation plus rider to this plan.
See IMG Global’s page on COVID-19 for additional policy information as it relates to coronavirus-related claims.
Most plans cover preexisting conditions under set conditions or up to specific amounts. For example, the iTravelInsured Travel LX travel insurance plan shown above covers preexisting conditions if you purchase the insurance before making the final payment for your trip.
And for the travel medical insurance plans shown above, preexisting conditions are covered for travelers under 70. However, coverage is capped based on your age and whether you have a primary health insurance policy.
- Multi-trip annual plans are modestly priced and provide the option to add adventure sports and additional evacuation coverage.
- Some travel insurance plans offer more than 100% coverage for trip interruption.
Purchase your policy here: IMG Global
Travel Insured International offers two plans for a single trip. However, note that you can add multiple destinations to a single trip.
Travel Insured has a coronavirus resources page you can check for additional information.
Typically, Travel Insured won’t provide coverage for losses incurred because of a preexisting medical condition that existed within 60 days of the coverage effective date. However, the preexisting condition exclusion is waived on some plans if you meet the following requirements:
- You pay your policy premium and submit your enrollment form within 21 days of making your initial trip payment or deposit.
- You are medically able and not disabled from travel when you pay your premium (based on a physician’s assessment).
- Some plans allow you to add-on additional cancellation reasons in the form of cancel for any reason coverage and cancel for work reasons coverage.
- You can add various other coverage types to some plans, including optional event ticket registration fee protection and rental car damage protection.
Purchase your policy here: Travel Insured International
Travelex offers three single-trip plans: Travel Basic, Travel Select and Travel America. However, only the Travel Basic and Travel Select plans would be applicable for my trip to Turkey.
See Travelex’s COVID-19 coverage statement for coronavirus-specific information.
Typically, Travelex won’t cover losses incurred because of a preexisting medical condition that existed within 60 days of the coverage effective date. However, the Travel Select plan offers a preexisting condition exclusion waiver. To be eligible for this waiver, you must meet all of the following conditions:
- You purchase the plan within 15 days of the initial trip payment.
- The amount of coverage purchased equals all prepaid, nonrefundable payments or deposits applicable to the trip at the time of purchase. Additionally, you must insure the costs of any subsequent arrangements added to the same trip within 15 days of payment or deposit.
- All insured individuals are medically able to travel when you pay the plan cost.
- The trip cost does not exceed the maximum trip cost limit under trip cancellation as shown in the schedule per person (only applicable to trip cancellation/interruption/ delay).
- Travelex’s Travel Select policy can cover trips up to 364 days, which is longer than many single-trip policies. Plus, you can add additional coverage types, such as additional medical coverage, adventure sports and car rental collision.
- Travelex’s Travel Select plan includes children under 18 for no additional cost.
- Both Travelex policies don’t require receipts for trip delay expenses and baggage delay expenses less than $25.
- For emergency evacuation coverage, you or someone on your behalf must contact Travelex and Travelex to make all transportation arrangements in advance. However, both Travelex policies provide an option if you cannot contact Travelex: Travelex will pay up to what it would have paid if it had made the arrangements.
Purchase your policy here: Travelex Insurance
Seven Corners offers a wide variety of policies. But, here are the policies that are most applicable to travelers on a single international trip:
Seven Corners also offers many other types of travel insurance, including two multi-trip annual plans. The primary difference between the two annual plans is that the Plus version includes up to $100,000 in medical expenses for COVID-19, SARS-Cov-2 or any mutation or variation of SARS-CoV-2. You can choose coverage for trips of up to 30, 45 or 60 days with either plan. For an annual multi-trip plan providing coverage outside my home country on trips of 30 days or less, I’d need to pay $253 for a Wander Frequent Traveler plan or $369 for a Wander Frequent Traveler Plus plan.
Typically, Seven Corners won’t cover losses incurred because of a preexisting medical condition. However, the RoundTrip Choice plan offers a preexisting condition exclusion waiver. To be eligible for this waiver, you must meet all of the following conditions:
- You buy this plan within 20 days of making your initial trip payment or deposit.
- You or your traveling companion are medically able and not disabled from travel when you pay for this plan or upgrade your plan.
- You update the coverage to include the additional cost of subsequent travel arrangements within 15 days of paying your travel supplier for them.
- Seven Corners offers the ability to purchase optional sports and golf equipment rental. If purchased, this extra insurance will reimburse you for the cost of renting sports or golf equipment if yours is lost, stolen, damaged or delayed by a common carrier for six or more hours. However, Seven Corners must authorize the expenses in advance.
- You can add cancel for any reason coverage or trip interrupt for any reason coverage to RoundTrip plans. Although some other providers offer cancel for any reason coverage, trip interrupt for any reason coverage is less common.
- Seven Corners’ RoundTrip Choice policy offers a political or security evacuation benefit that will transport you to the nearest safe place or your residence under specific conditions. You can also add optional event ticket registration fee protection to the RoundTrip Choice policy.
- Seven Corners offers relatively inexpensive multi-trip coverage, especially for couples and families.
Purchase your policy here: Seven Corners
World Nomads is popular with younger, active travelers because of its flexible coverage and its adventure-activities coverage on the Explorer plan. Unlike many policies offered by other providers, you don’t need to estimate prepaid costs when purchasing the insurance to have access to trip interruption and cancellation insurance.
World Nomads offers two single-trip plans:
World Nomads has a page dedicated to coronavirus coverage, so check that page out before buying a policy.
World Nomads won’t cover losses incurred because of a preexisting medical condition (except emergency evacuation and repatriation of remains) that existed within 90 days of the coverage effective date. Unlike many other providers, World Nomads doesn’t offer a waiver.
- World Nomads policies cover more adventure sports than most providers, so activities such as bungee jumping are covered. Plus, the Explorer policy covers almost any adventure sport, including sky diving, stunt flying and caving. So, if you partake in adventure sports while traveling, the Explorer policy may be a good fit.
- World Nomads policies provide non-medical evacuation coverage for transportation expenses if there is civil or political unrest in the country you are visiting. The coverage will also transport you home if there is an eligible natural disaster or if a government expels you.
Purchase your policy here: World Nomads
Other options for buying travel insurance
This guide details the policies of nine providers with the information available at the time of publication. But there are many options when it comes to travel insurance. If you want to compare different policies quickly, you can search on aggregators such as InsureMyTrip or Squaremouth. Just note that these search engines won’t show every policy and you should still research the provided policies to ensure the coverage fits your trip and your needs.
Likewise, you can purchase a plan through various membership associations such as USAA, AAA or Costco. Typically, these organizations partner with a specific provider. So if you are a member of any of these associations, you may want to compare the policies offered through the organization with other policies to get the best coverage for your trip.
Is travel insurance worth getting?
Whether to purchase travel insurance is a personal decision. Suppose you use a credit card that provides travel insurance for most of your travel expenses and have medical insurance that provides adequate coverage abroad. In that case, you may be covered enough on most trips to forgo purchasing travel insurance.
However, suppose your medical insurance won’t cover you at your destination and you can’t comfortably cover a sizeable medical evacuation bill or last-minute flight home. In that case, you should consider purchasing travel insurance. If you travel frequently, it may be worth it to buy a multi-trip annual policy.
What is the best COVID-19 travel insurance?
There are various aspects to consider if you’re traveling during the coronavirus pandemic. I recommend booking travel plans that are fully refundable or have modest change or cancellation fees. This way, you don’t need to worry about whether your policy will cover trip cancellation. And this is important since many policies won’t cover your cancellation if it’s related to a known event (such as the coronavirus pandemic). However, if you want to book a trip without free cancellation, you should consider buying cancel for any reason insurance.
You must also consider whether interruptions due to coronavirus-related reasons are covered. Likewise, if your primary health insurance won’t cover you on your trip, it’s essential to consider whether medical expenses related to COVID-19 treatment are covered. You may also want to consider a MedJet medical transport membership if your trip is to a covered destination for COVID-related evacuation.
In the end, the best pandemic travel insurance will depend on your trip details and how much you’re willing to self-insure.
What are the different types of travel insurance?
- Baggage delay protection may provide reimbursement for essential items and clothing when a common carrier such as an airline fails to deliver your checked bag within a set time of your arrival at a destination. You can usually reimburse up to a particular amount, either per incident or per day.
- Lost/damaged baggage protection may provide reimbursement to replace lost or damaged luggage and items inside that luggage. However, there is usually a relatively low maximum benefit for valuables and electronics.
- Trip delay reimbursement may provide reimbursement for necessary items, food, lodging and sometimes transport when you’re delayed for a substantial time while traveling on a common carrier such as an airline. This insurance can be beneficial if weather issues (or other reasons for which the airline usually won’t provide compensation) delay you.
- Trip cancellation and interruption protection can provide reimbursement if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason, such as a death in your family or jury duty.
- Medical evacuation insurance can arrange and pay for medical evacuation if deemed necessary by the insurance provider and a medical professional. If you’re visiting a remote area or traveling in a region with sub-par medical facilities, this insurance can be particularly valuable.
- Travel accident insurance may provide a payment to you or your beneficiary in the case of your death or dismemberment.
- Emergency medical insurance may provide payment or reimburse you if you must seek medical care while traveling. Some plans only cover emergency medical care, but some also cover other types of medical care. You may need to pay a deductible or copay.
- Rental car coverage may provide a collision damage waiver when you rent a car. This waiver may provide reimbursement for collision damage or theft up to a set amount. Some policies also cover loss-of-use charges assessed by the rental company and towing charges to take the vehicle to the nearest qualified repair facility. You may need to decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver or similar provision to be covered.
Should I buy travel health insurance?
Especially if you purchase travel with credit cards that provide travel insurance, you may not see much need for travel insurance. But, you may still wonder whether you should buy travel medical insurance.
If your primary health insurance covers you on your trip, you may not need travel health insurance. However, your policy may not cover you outside the U.S. So, it’s worth calling the number on your health insurance card if you have coverage questions. If you find your primary health insurance wouldn’t cover you, it’s likely worth purchasing travel health insurance. After all, as you can see above, travel medical insurance is often very modestly priced.
How much does travel insurance cost?
The cost of travel insurance depends on various factors, including the provider, your trip cost, your destination, your age and how many travelers you want to insure. Select credit cards provide travel insurance simply as a benefit of purchasing travel on your card. But if you’re looking to buy travel insurance, you can expect to pay between $40 and $190 for one traveler on a one-week trip costing $2,000. The best way to determine how much travel insurance will cost is to simply price out your trip with a few of the providers discussed in the guide.
When and how to get travel insurance
To get maximum trip cancellation insurance benefits and be covered by the pre-existing conditions waiver offered by select policies, you should ideally purchase travel insurance on the same day as your first trip expenses. However, many plans will still provide a pre-existing conditions waiver as long as you buy your travel insurance within 14 or 21 days of your first trip expense or deposit. If you don’t need a pre-existing conditions waiver or trip cancellation insurance, you can purchase travel insurance once your departure date nears. But, some providers won’t allow you to buy a policy for same-day departure.
The easiest way to purchase travel insurance is to price out a few policies with the providers described in this guide. Then you can complete your purchase online. You’ll usually be able to download your insurance card and the complete policy shortly after the purchase is complete.
Not all travel insurance policies and providers are equal. So, before buying a plan, be sure to read and understand the policy documents. By doing so, you can choose a plan that’s appropriate for you and your trip. And you can ensure the plan you buy will cover you.
For example, if you plan to go skiing or rock climbing, make sure the policy you buy doesn’t exclude these activities. Likewise, if you’re making two back-to-back trips during which you’ll be returning home for a short time in between, be sure the plan doesn’t terminate coverage at the end of your first trip. And if you’re looking to cover preexisting conditions, be sure to select a policy with a preexisting condition waiver and fulfill the requirements for the waiver. After all, buying insurance won’t help if the policy you purchase doesn’t cover your losses.
Featured photo by Westend61/Getty Images
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